July 13, 2004 at 12:50 AM EST - Updated June 28 at 4:51 PM
Federal Judge Arthur Spiegel ruled on Monday that Hamilton County can take over a lawsuit against the Cincinnati Bengals and the National Football League. The suit claims, among other things, that the defendants violated anti-trust laws by threatening to move the team unless taxpayers built the Bengals a new stadium, which voters agreed to do in 1996.
"It's their monopoly power they took advantage of, and abused the laws of the United States of America," Stan Chesley told FOX19. Chesley has been hired by Hamilton County to bring the lawsuit, which seeks as much as $600 million in damages. However, Chesley said it is not the county's aim to bankrupt the team, and any award would be payable over the 30-year length of the Bengals' lease.
The Bengals could now try to invalidate that lease and seek damages of their own. Depositions are expected to get underway soon, and include team owner Mike Brown and Bob Bedinghaus, the former county commissioner who now works for the Bengals.
Chesley said a trial could take place early next year.